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Flora & Fauna

Wetland Wander

A busy outdoor educator spends a day outside on her own. By Grace Gaard, Outdoor Educator When I was younger, time seemed to go on forever as I spent much of it exploring the outdoors. Now as an adult, I’ve recently realized that my time in nature has changed. While I absolutely love facilitating students’ exploration of nature as an outdoor educator at Game and Parks, I’m realizing that making time to explore nature for myself is something I need …

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Urban Wildlife

Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Educator Although “urban wildlife” might sound contradictory, there is in fact a great amount of wildlife that you can view from your backyard, a city park or even downtown Omaha – you might see peregrine falcon roosting on our state capitol, or a garter snake in a sump pump, or a mallard duck that has taken up residence in your tulips. Urban wildlife has come a long way since the time of our ancestors. These animals have …

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What to know about the morel mushroom hunting season that has begun

Good news … The morel mushroom hunting season has begun! Morels are now being found near dead and decaying hardwood trees like cottonwoods and elms in moist eastern Nebraska river bottom woodlands. Tersh Kepler of Omaha is Nebraska’s morel mushroom hunting expert with more than 50 years of experience and he points out there are some important things to know about morel mushroom hunting before venturing to the woods. Kepler found early season morels with the arrival of May and …

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Turtle Love

By Gerry Steinauer, Botanist One morning last June, while photographing wildflowers in the Sandhills blowout, I came upon a pair of ornate box turtles. I determined, based on eye color — male box turtles have red eyes, while a female’s are yellowish-brown — that they were of the opposite sex, apparently an amorous couple on a blowout tryst. And I was intruding. I hated to be rude, but with no box turtle photographs in my portfolio, this was, for me, …

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Finding Nature Under the Night Sky

By Amber Schiltz, Wildlife Educator What does nature mean to you? As a wildlife educator, I get to hear a variety of answers when I ask this question of both students and adults. For many, it means playing outside, climbing trees, looking for bugs and birds, or watching clouds float by. For others, nature is found when engaging with its bountiful resources through fishing or hunting, or getting our hands in the soil and planting our gardens. I find meaning …

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A Researcher’s Field Season – Part I

By Allison Barg, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Research Graduate Assistant “I put pheasant habitat on my property. Why don’t I have any pheasants?” University of Nebraska-Lincoln biologists are trying to answer this question. Many Nebraska landowners and wildlife managers have noticed that in parts of the state where there are swaths of land covered in what looks to be ideal pheasant habitat, there are no pheasants. It turns out that the “if you build it, they will come” approach doesn’t always …

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Hunting Turkeys in Foul Weather

Nebraska weather. Don’t like it? Wait a short while. It’ll change, maybe. Reality is rarely so kind. The Cornhusker State’s spring wild turkey hunting seasons are in full swing amid the ever-changing, ever-fluctuating weather patterns and conditions here on the Great Plains. But one unfortunate thing has been fairly consistent this spring: Wind. And lots of it! National Weather Service data since 1960 for eastern Nebraska show that it is averaging its second-windiest year to date and the second-windiest spring …

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Dandelions: They’re What’s For Dinner!

As I glance around my Omaha yard from the mailbox, my eye catches bright yellow blots dotting the front lawn. Hmmm … I know this plant. I know its flowers. I know its leaves. And I can eat them. All of them! What is it? Why, it is the dandelion, of course! No, don’t stop reading the blog, stay with me here, please. Look, I know the dandelion is the scourge of yards, lots, flower beds, gardens and fields this …

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Spring’s Other Tasty Edible Mushroom: The Dryad’s Saddle

Topside photo of a dryad’s saddle, a.k.a. pheasant’s back or hawks wing, in Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Hey, what’s that mushroom? Hmmm … Wonder if it’s edible? Along with finding and picking morel mushrooms, there is another edible wild fungi growing in your moist woodlands that you should know and consider harvesting and making for dinner — the dryad’s saddle. Dryad’s saddle? The dryad’s saddle (Cerioporus squamosus, formerly known as Polyporus squamosus), and referred to as …

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Turkey Talk with a Top Caller

Spring wild turkey hunting all about the “talk.” Really, it is about communication. You, the turkey hunter, make the sounds of a sexually appealing hen and the interested, aroused toms gobble back. Very simply, you are talking to that bird.  Now, what you are saying, how you are saying it and when you are saying it is the source of much discussion in turkey hunting circles. So, that being stated, I reached out to Douglas Herman of Wahoo, NE, a renown, …

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